2013 Speakers

Chloe Angyal
Susan Avila Smith
Jennifer Beals
Center for Veterans Advancement (CVA), Public Counsel
Sig Christenson
Katy Clemens
Brittney Cooper, Ph.D.
Kathleen Gilberd
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Deirdre Stoelzle Graves
Lee Hancock
Beth Hillman
Greg Jacob
Chris Jahnke
Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN)
Vania Leveille
Senator Claire McCaskill
BriGette McCoy
Margaret Middleton
Ruth Moore
Rachel Natelson
Sara Outterson
Teresa Panepinto
Sandra Park
Jim Pineau
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree
Jessica Powers-Heaven
Adriana Rodriguez, LCSW
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez
Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Charles Sowell
Mychal Denzel Smith
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas
Congressman Mike Turner
*Panel of Survivors of Military Sexual Violence

ChloeAngyalChloe Angyal is a freelance writer and blogger from Sydney, Australia and is based in New York City. She is an Editor at Feministing, the world’s most-read feminist publication. Her academic work focuses on contemporary Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis, currently in progress, is about how the genre depicts gender, sex and love. Angyal’s writing has been published in The Dawson Times Times, New York magazine, The Atlantic, Slate, Jezebel, The American Prospect, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Christian Science Monitor. She writes about politics, pop culture, and gender. She has appeared on Al Jazeera English and NPR, and is a regular guest on MSNBC.

Susan Avila-Smith, former U.S. Army Specialist, has engaged in advocacy work for veterans with Military Sexual Trauma (MST) since 1996. In recent years she has conducted training classes for Congressional Representative’s Staff, State Veterans Service Officers, National Veterans Service Officers and attorneys who represent both active duty personnel and veterans. She has written extensively about the best techniques for winning VA claims, and provides support and encouragement for many of those still processing claims by maintaining contact with them. In the past she has been a business and funding consultant having worked with Small Business Financial Services such as Entrust, Advantage and MerchantAdvance. As a mentor for new advocates, she provides information, relevant contacts, media relations advice, and recommendations for dealing with one’s own MST while working with others who have it. Ms. Avila-Smith is on the Boards of a number of MST and Veteran organizations.

An accomplished actress known for taking risks in a myriad of different roles, and winner of the 1999 San Jose San Juan PR Film and Resorts Festival’s Maverick Award, Jennifer Beals continues to remain a successful and hardworking actress.

This past summer, she starred in the critically acclaimed “Lauren” episode of the WIGS series on their popular YouTube Channel, addressing military sexual violence and smashing online viewing records in its premiere week. The show recently wrapped shooting a second season of an additional 15 episodes to premiere later this month.

Beals was nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series by the NAACP two years in a row for her role in the critically acclaimed Showtime Original Series, “The L Word.” The story centered on a group of lesbian friends in Los Angeles, including Pam Grier and Mia Kirschner and wrapped its sixth and final season last year.

Her hard work and dedication on “The L Word” has earned her accolades, nominations and enormous appreciation from numerous groups including, the Power Up Award, the GLAAD Golden Gate Award and the Golden Satellite Award for Outstanding Actress.

Originally from Chicago, Beals began her career after graduating from high school when she auditioned for “Flashdance,” resulting in a role which earned her a Golden Globe nomination and an NAACP Image Award for “Best Actress.” Understanding the importance of an education, she entered Yale University to study American Literature, where she graduated with honors.

Founded in 1970, Public Counsel is the public interest law firm of the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills Bar Associations as well as the Southern California affiliate of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Its Center for Veterans Advancement (CVA), directed by Rick Little, is a national leader in veteran’s advocacy, providing direct representation, or representation through pro bono partners, to veterans and their families. CVA provides legal representation at both the local and national levels, and coordinates its work with efforts underway to establish special “Veterans’ Courts” in Northern and Southern California designed to meet the unique needs of returning veterans. CVA also manages legal clinics, including one of the largest pro bono advocacy programs in the United States.

brittney-cooperBrittney C. Cooper, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University. She is also co-founder of the Crunk Feminist Collective, a Hip Hop feminist blogging collective that writes about politics, pop culture and gender issues from a Hip Hop Generation perspective. Dr. Cooper was named alongside two of her Crunk Feminist Colleagues as one of 35 Young, Black, and Amazing women under age 35 by Essence Magazine in August 2012. The Crunk Feminist blog has been called a top “lady blog” by New York Magazine and a top Black blog of 2012 by theroot.com. Dr. Cooper was also a 2011 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rutgers Center for Race and Ethnicity and a 2012 Progressive Women’s Voices Fellow at the Women’s Media Center. She is currently completing her first book Race Women: Gender and the Making of a Black Public Intellectual Tradition, 1892-Present.

Kalima DeSuze, SWAN Board Chair, served over six years in the US Army as a Battalion Paralegal in positions spanning from criminal justice to personal property claims. She is the President of the Board of Directors. Since her transition from the US Army, her life’s work has been dedicated to addressing the systems of oppression that most directly impact her experiences – specifically, working to eradicate racism and gender-based violence. Her commitment to these efforts is reflected in many of her life’s choices. She has organized with survivors of domestic violence at Voices of Women Organizing Project; survivors of military sexual trauma at Service Women’s Action Network, and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation with Girls Educational and Mentoring Services. She recently joined the staff of Black Women’s Blueprint as their Outreach and Communication Manager.

She holds a Bachelors in Social Work from Hood College, a Masters in Social Work (MSW) from Hunter College School of Social Work with a concentration in Community Organizing, Social Planning and Development, and a Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College School of Public Affairs. She is a proud member of the Board of Directors of National Association of Social Workers-NYC and the Executive Steering Committee of the Undoing Racism Internship Project-NY. Kalima is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Columbia University School of Social Work, focusing on Community Organizing and Military Social Work. She is a National Council for the Research of Women-AMEX 2012-2013 Fellow.

Kathleen Gilberd is the Executive Director of The Military Law Task Force in San Diego, California, working in the areas of military administrative law and discharge review. She works extensively with the San Diego Military Counseling Project and serves on the board of directors of the national GI Rights Network. She is the author (with Majorie Cohn) of Rules of Disengagement: the Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. She was also the contributing author in Clark Boardman Callahan’s Sexual Orientation and the Law.

Official PortraitKirsten E. Gillibrand was first sworn in as United States Senator from New York in January 2009. In November 2012, Gillibrand was elected to her first six-year Senate term with 72 percent of the vote, winning 60 of New York’s 62 counties. Prior to her service in the Senate, Gillibrand served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New York’s 20th Congressional District, which spanned 10 counties in upstate New York.

In the U.S. Senate, Senator Gillibrand has made her presence felt, helping lead the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the policy that banned gays from serving openly in the military, and providing health care and compensation to the 9/11 first responders and community survivors that are sick with diseases caused by the toxins at Ground Zero. Senator Gillibrand worked to bring Democrats and Republicans together to win both legislative victories, leading Newsweek/The Daily Beast to name Senator Gillibrand one of “150 Women Who Shake the World.”

After serving on the Armed Services Committee in the House, Senator Gillibrand is again serving on the Senate Armed Services, using her position to strengthen America’s armed services, national security and military readiness, and to continue fighting for America’s troops and military families by creating better economic opportunities for veterans returning home to their families today. Among her top priorities for the 113th Congress, is ending the scourge of sexual violence in the military, and strengthening the rights and protections of victims of sexual assault.

Deirdre Stoelzle Graves is the executive director of The Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism (formerly the Dart Society), dedicated to providing outreach and support to journalists who cover tragedy, violence and social injustice. As a former crime and social issues reporter and city editor in Wyoming, her work focused on explanatory reporting on violence against women and training journalists to be more ethical and compassionate in approaching stories with victims and survivors. She is a recipient of the Dart Center Ochberg Fellowship and twice traveled to Rwanda to report on social and criminal justice issues in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. Deirdre is also the author, with photographer Jenny Gorman, of “Branded: The Making of a Wyoming Cowgirl,” about life on an isolated cattle ranch in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.

Rebekah Havrilla, SWAN Outreach and Education Coordinator, is a former Sergeant and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician in the United States Army. She was stationed at Fort Riley, KS and deployed to Afghanistan in 2006–2007. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Social Policy with a certificate in Veterans Services from Empire State University and has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Sociology with honors from Drury University in Springfield, MO. Rebekah has presented at numerous hearings and panels on the issues facing women veterans including Yale Law School, Rutgers University, Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Work and the New York Mental Health Coalition and is a member of the Mayor’s Office for Veterans Affairs (MOVA) Women Veterans Action Panel in New York City. She has also appeared on several television and radio shows including CNN’s Piers Morgan, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry and the NPR syndicated Diane Rehm Show. Before working at SWAN, Rebekah was a crisis counselor and victim advocate for a domestic abuse shelter in Missouri.

gregjacobGreg Jacob is the Policy Director at the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and a former U.S. Marine with 10 years of experience serving both as an enlisted infantry Marine and an infantry officer. Since joining SWAN in 2010, Greg has successfully established SWAN as a leading voice in developing extremely effective solutions to the tough issues facing service members and veterans through legislation, litigation, policy changes and regulatory reform. Greg holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Kentucky and worked as a media professional prior to joining the Marine Corps. Greg’s numerous deployments with the Fleet Marine Force and Joint Special Operations Command have taken him to every continent except Antarctica. A solid researcher and prolific writer, Greg has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by members of the military and the veterans’ community and has appeared in media outlets worldwide as a powerful advocate for institutional change. Greg is a member of the Miniconjou Lakota tribe.

Official PortraitSenator Amy Klobuchar (MN) became the first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota in the United States Senate in 2006. Throughout her career in public service – both as chief prosecutor in the state’s largest county and now as a U.S. Senator – Amy has always embraced the values she learned growing up in Minnesota.

Since arriving in the Senate, Senator Klobuchar has fought for victims of sexual assault in the military. Klobuchar recently introduced the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Act of 2013—bipartisan legislation to prevent sexual offenders from serving in the military, improve tracking and review of sexual assault claims in the military, and help ensure victims can get the justice they deserve. Last year, Klobuchar introduced similar legislation, and three of the bill’s provisions were included in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) reauthorization.

In 2011, Klobuchar passed bipartisan legislation—the Support for Survivors Act—to help ensure that survivors of sexual assault in the military can access their records and pursue justice.

Margaret Middleton serves as Executive Director of Connecticut Veterans Legal Center which she co-founded in 2009. The CVLC exists to help recovering homeless and mentally ill veterans overcome legal barriers to housing and income. She is also a Clinical Visiting Lecturer in Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Previously, she was an Emerson Fellow at David Rosen and Associates in New Haven and a law clerk to The Honorable Janet C. Hall of the U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, CT. She is a graduate of Cornell University and the New York University School of Law.

Vania Leveille is a senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, serving as its advocate for women’s rights, reproductive rights and health. Through her advocacy on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies, Leveille works to expand and protect women’s choices and opportunities. Most recently, she led the ACLU’s work on the Shaheen Amendment, which successfully repealed a decades-long ban on certain reproductive health care coverage for servicewomen and military dependents. Before joining the ACLU, Leveille held several positions in the nonprofit and private sectors. She served as the Government Relations Officer at Reading is Fundamental, the nation’s oldest children’s literacy organization and as national program director at the National Mentoring Partnership, where she created public private partnerships that served at-risk youths. She co-founded DC Cares, which connects volunteers with opportunities to serve the D.C. community. DC Cares is modeled after New York Cares, where Leveille served as assistant director. Leveille also worked as a commercial litigator in New York law firms and clerked for the Honorable Judge George Bundy Smith in the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

A daughter of rural Missouri, Claire McCaskill has earned a reputation in the U.S. Senate as an independent, plain-spoken fighter for accountability in government, financial services and credit card processing reform, fiscal responsibility, and a strong national defense. As a former courtroom prosecutor, Claire is also no stranger to the fight for justice for survivors of sexual assault. Claire started out as a young assistant prosecutor in Kansas City, where she specialized in prosecuting sex crimes. Later, as the first woman to serve as Jackson County Prosecutor, she established a first-of-its kind domestic violence unit for the Kansas City region. Claire continued raising the level of accountability in Missouri as the state’s Auditor, and later took on her own party establishment, becoming the first person to ever defeat a sitting Missouri Governor in a primary election.

In 2006, when Claire became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri, she brought that same fight for accountability to the halls of Congress. As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Claire shined a light on inadequate responses to assaults at Missouri’s own Fort Leonard Wood. She highlighted the issue of sexual assault at the confirmation hearings of both Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, and has consistently used Senate hearings to grill military leaders about combating the pervasive problem. Claire has also worked each year to shape National Defense Authorization bills to better confront sexual assaults in the ranks, and better protect survivors.

Claire was one of the first members of Congress to sound the alarm about the recent disturbing sexual assault case out of Aviano air base in Italy, and in the past few months, has met one-on-one with military leaders in all branches, has held their feet to the fire in Senate hearings, and has introduced legislation that would curtail the authority of commanders to dismiss jury convictions against sex offenders, while also imposing new requirements that strengthen accountability in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Calling rape “the crime of a coward,” Claire McCaskill has pledged to continue her fight until sexual assaults in the military are fully addressed, and perpetrators are held to account.

Ruth Moore is an MST survivor who has learned to find joy in the simple things in life. She holds a graduate degree in Exceptional Student Education and devotes her time to homeschooling her daughter and tending her animals. Both she and her husband reside in Milbridge on a small homestead and enjoy raising and growing their own food.

With the advent of The Invisible War and Military Sexual Trauma, she has become a strong national advocate and resource for other survivors. Recently, she has worked with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator John Tester to introduce the Ruth Moore Act of 2013 into Congress to help all MST survivors have equality in the Veteran’s claim process. Ruth is unable to work due to extensive health issues, but she tries to give back to her community by helping out with the Girl Scouts of Maine and assisting the Maine Department of the Disabled American Veterans.

Rachel Natelson is the Legal Director at SWAN. She was formerly a board member for the organization and a staff attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. She founded and directed the Veterans and Servicemembers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City. She has provided pro bono outreach, advice, and representation to numerous claimants before the Department of Veterans Affairs and the military Discharge Review Boards and Boards for Correction of Military Records. Experienced in family law, Rachel has worked with underserved populations in New York City for years, including the homeless, children and the elderly. Rachel graduated magna cum laude from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History, and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her law degree from the New York University School of Law.

Teresa Panepinto is the Legal Director of Swords to Plowshares, an organization that provides free legal assistance to veterans seeking VA benefits and military discharge reviews. She is an active member of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild, and served on its Steering Committee from 2004-2009. From 2000-2004, Teresa coordinated the nation-wide GI Rights Hotline, a service that provides legal information to military servicemembers. She has extensive experience training attorneys, legal workers, and law students on military and veterans law. Teresa received her undergraduate degree from Willamette University and her law degree from UC Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree moved to Maine in 1970s. After graduating from College of the Atlantic, she and her husband started a small farm on the island of North Haven. A knitting business she started in the early 80s soon grew to ten year-round employees producing knitting kits and books that were sold in hundreds of stores across the country.

Chellie was elected to the Maine Senate in 1992 and after serving four terms—two as Senate Majority Leader—went on to become the national President of Common Cause. In 2008, she was elected to Congress to serve Maine’s 1st District. She currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee.

Congresswoman Pingree became involved with the issue of military sexual trauma after meeting a group of survivors during an interview for the MST documentary Invisible War. Seeing that many MST survivors were denied VA benefits for conditions caused by their assaults, Pingree introduced the Ruth Moore Act to lift the bureaucratic burdens they face. The bill is named after a Maine MST survivor who fought for 23 years to receive disability benefits after her debilitating sexual assault. Pingree has also worked to push the Director of National Intelligence to exempt MST survivors from having to disclose counseling they received for their assaults on Question 21 of the security clearance form.

Jessica Powers-Heaven, Esq., is the supervising attorney at the Sexual Assault Legal Institute, which is a program of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.  In that capacity, she provides direct legal services to survivors of sexual assault and child sexual abuse throughout Maryland in a variety of areas of law, including peace and protective orders, family law, criminal justice advocacy, education, immigration, and employment.  Prior to joining SALI, she was a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, DC, and served as law clerk to the Honorable M. Brooke Murdock of the Baltimore City Circuit Court.  She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the Georgetown University Law Center.

Jim PineauSara Outterson is Legislative Counsel for Congresswoman Niki Tsongas and the Congresswoman’s lead staffer for the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus. Prior to working on the Hill, Sara earned a law degree from William and Mary, and served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Carmen Alvarez of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey.

Sandra Park is a staff attorney in the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. At WRP, Sandra engages in litigation, policy advocacy, and public education at the national, state, and local levels to advance the rights and civil liberties of women and girls. Sandra has advocated for the rights of survivors of domestic and sexual violence throughout her career, and her current work includes challenging discrimination against victims in housing, employment, education, and government services. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Law and clerked for U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York.

Jim PineauJim Pineau is currently the Field Representative & Military Legislative Aide for Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. Jim provides constituent services, legislative assistance and attends outreach events and on a host of issues for Representative Pingree. Issues include Military and Veterans Affairs, Economic Development, Small Business, Trade and Labor. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and has a degree in communication from the University of Southern Maine. He lives in Lisbon, Maine, with his wife and their two sons.

Adriana Rodriguez, LCSW, is the Director of Special Programs at Jericho Project, a non-profit agency that provides housing and housing placement, employment, relapse prevention, family services and personalized case managed to more than 1,000 New York City individuals, families, and veterans. She received her Master’s from the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and her Bachelor’s in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University. Prior to her work Jericho Project, she was the Coordinator of the Home Again: Veterans and Family Initiative and a Master Trainer for the Martha K. Selig’s Educational Institute of Jewish Board Family Children Services. Ms. Rodriguez was also a research a clinician at the Trauma and Addiction Project and specializes in Exposure Therapy, Seeking Safety, Relapse Prevention and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. She has experience working with individuals with severe mental illness, trauma and co-occurring disorders. She is currently responsible for program development, training, direct service, and supervision of the Special Projects at Jericho Project.

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is proud to represent California’s 46th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange and Garden Grove in Orange County. She began her congressional career in January of 1997 and is currently serving her ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A recognized leader on military and national security issues, Rep. Sanchez is the second highest ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. She currently serves as the Ranking Member of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, where she is working to prepare our Armed Forces for a new generation of security challenges. On the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, Rep. Sanchez focuses on Army and Air Force acquisition programs and weapons systems, along with the Navy and Marine Corps aviation programs and National Guard issues. Rep. Sanchez is also a senior member of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, where she served as Ranking Member during the 112th Congress. Rep. Sanchez was appointed by Leader Pelosi to the prestigious Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Rep. Sanchez is the leading voice in Congress for women in the military. She is founder and co-chair of the Women in the Military Caucus and is the highest ranked female on the Armed Services Committee. Rep. Sanchez fought to allow female service members to serve in combat roles and she has implemented significant measures to fight sexual assault in the military, successfully updating outdated sexual assault provisions in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, originally enacted in 1950, in order to grant additional survivors’ rights. She also legislated to implement a sexual assault database in the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, Public Law No: 110-417.

Sig Christenson is a senior writer covering the military for the San Antonio Express-News and been with the paper since 1997. He was embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and has reported from Baghdad and Afghanistan seven times since, including two tours in Kabul, Bagram Air Base and elsewhere in country during 2009 and 2010. He has reported from the Korean DMZ, India, Pakistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia, Italy, Germany, France and England, as well as Kuwait, Dubai and Qatar. A Houston native, he covered the Branch Davidian siege, the 1994 Pensacola abortion clinic shooting, the 2003 space shuttle breakup over Texas, the 2009 Fort Hood shooting and its subsequent legal proceedings, and hurricanes, tropical storms and floods since 1986, the latest Rita and Katrina. Some of Mr. Christenson’s major projects at the Express-News include “Witness to War,” a special section recounting the invasion and early occupation of Iraq, and “The Only Retreat,” a three-part series detailing the only U.S. defeat during the 2003 invasion. He has won awards from Hearst Newspapers and the Associated Press, including Texas APME’s Specialties Reporting category in 2008, and was named “Reporter of the Year” by his peers in 2004. A graduate of the University of Houston, he is a co-founder, former president and current board member of Military Reporters & Editors. For a look at his work over time, see www.sigchristenson.com E-mail Sig at saddamscribe@yahoo.com

Katy Schuman Clemens has been a litigation staff attorney with NVLSP since December 2006. In that time, she has represented many veterans, dependents and survivors before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, VA Regional Offices, and the Board for Correction of Naval Records. Ms. Clemens also trains advocates in veterans’ law, and mentors attorneys participating in NVLSP’s Lawyers Serving Warriors® Program as well as the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program. Ms. Clemens has devoted significant time to the Nehmer v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs lawsuit, as well as to issues facing military sexual trauma survivors. She is an active member of both the Maryland Bar and the National Lawyers Guild, where she has served on the National Executive Committee. Ms. Clemens is a graduate of University of Maryland, Baltimore County (B.A., English, cum laude, 2000) and Fordham Law School (J.D., magna cum laude, 2006).

Shaheen-021109-18432- 0009Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH) is the first and only woman in U.S. history to be elected both a Governor and a United States Senator and has served New Hampshire’s citizens for decades.  A member of the Senate committees on Foreign Relations, Appropriations, Armed Services, and Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Shaheen is working to improve our economy through increased exports, strengthening math and science education, and addressing our energy challenges.  Before joining the Senate, Shaheen served three terms as Governor of New Hampshire.  She and her husband Bill live in Madbury, New Hampshire.

photo (18)Mychal Denzel Smith is a writer, social commentator, and mental health advocate whose work on politics, social justice, mental health, and black male identity has appeared in outlets such as The Nation, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Gawker, Salon, The Root, and more. Follow him at mychaldenzelsmith.com and on Twitter: @mychalsmith.

Charles (Charlie) Sowell is the Deputy Assistant Director for Special Security, Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). He serves as senior advisor to the Director of National Intelligence in his dual roles as head of the Intelligence Community and as Security Executive Agent for U.S. Government personnel security issues. Prior to this role, Mr. Sowell served as the Program Executive for Security Clearance Reform and was a leader in the development of government-wide policy, processes, technology, and procedures to transform and modernize the U.S. security clearance and suitability enterprise. Previously, he was the first Director of the Enterprise Programs Office at the National Intelligence University. Mr. Sowell was appointed to the Senior National Intelligence Service in March 2008.

Prior to joining the ODNI, Mr. Sowell was Director of National Security Programs at a midsize public company in Fairfax, VA. He led a 130-person organization delivering education, training, intelligence analysis, and information technology support to federal, state, and local government customers. His programs supported Combatant Commands, law enforcement agencies and IC organizations. He also served as Deputy Director of Intelligence at the DoD Criminal Investigation Task Force. Mr. Sowell was Vice President of National Security Training at a privately-owned company in McLean, VA. He previously served as Director of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Programs at a privately- owned company in Herndon, VA.

Mr. Sowell is also a Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer, currently serving as the Operations Officer in a Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command unit. Other assignments have included Commanding Officer of the US European Command J2 unit, and leadership positions with the Joint Staff, National Reconnaissance Office, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and Office of Naval Intelligence. He has active duty service on the USS Wasp LHD-1 and the USS Mount Whitney LCC-20. Mr. Sowell was mobilized after September 11, 2001 as an NCIS agent. He and his wife Allison live in Ashburn, VA, and they have one daughter.

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-3) was elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 and currently serves in a leadership position as Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. She also serves on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel which is tasked with protecting and providing for the members of our armed forces.

Soon after her election to Congress, Congresswoman Tsongas attended a Wounded Warrior Event and spoke with a small group of female soldiers. She inquired about whether the extreme incidence of sexual assault in the military that she had recently learned about during a House Armed Services Hearing was as serious an issue as had been suggested by the panel of witnesses. In response, one female soldier candidly told the Congresswoman: “Ma’am, I am more afraid of my own soldiers than I am of the enemy.”

From that moment forward, Congresswoman Tsongas has since become a national voice on preventing and combating sexual assault in our armed forces. Along with Republican Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio, she founded the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus and has been one of the strongest voices on Capitol Hill calling for military reforms to prevent the alarming incidence of sexual assault in the military and ensure that the victims of sexual assault are granted the respect and the justice they deserve. Her efforts include authoring and shepherding into law Defense STRONG, which grants victims the right to request an expedited base transfer, the right to legal assistance, and the right to confidentiality when seeking assistance from an advocate.

She has also led the push for modernized, lightweight and gender-specific body armor. And, she has worked to grow the defense manufacturing base that is thriving in Massachusetts.
Tsongas also serves on the Natural Resources Committee and supports the Third District’s two National Historical Parks, National Heritage areas and a network of rivers protected under the Wild and Scenic River designation.

Prior to being elected to the House of Representatives, Tsongas served as a Dean at Middlesex Community College, worked as a social worker and opened the first all-female law practice in the city of Lowell.

miketurnerCongressman Mike Turner was elected to the House of Representatives in 2002 and serves as the Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces as well as on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Turner, who has been a leading advocate on the issue of sexual assault in the military, has introduced the Defense Sexual Trauma Response and Good Governance  (STRONG) Act. Many of this bill’s provisions were included in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act and have become law.  Key accomplishments include making Military Protective Orders (MPO) standing orders and that civilian authorities be notified when an MPO is issued and affects off-base personnel, requiring the SARPO Director position to be filled by a General Officer, giving victims a right to base or unit transfer, providing victims a right to counsel, and creating privileges to conversation between victims and the victims advocates. In addition, Turner has joined with Congresswoman Niki Tsongas to form the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus. This caucus, made up of Members of the House, serves as a forum to discuss and form solutions to the issue of sexual assault in our military.